The toughest call of all

Think for a moment about what is the hardest thing to give to any relationship.

Think about what happens inside a relationship when one party accidentally or with some deliberation gives hurt to the other either physically or mentally.

The point of hurting is the crux of how the relationship will go forward from that moment. One party is in damage mode, and if the relationship is of value, the other is in damage control. But control of any kind is where we come unglued. Consider the parable:

The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed ten thousand talents; and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, “Lord have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.” And out of pity for him, he forgave the debt.

But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him 100 denarii, and seizing him by the throat he said, “pay me what you owe me.” So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, “have patience with me, and I will pay you.” He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt.

When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then the lord summoned him and said to him, “You wicked servant!

I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you? And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers till he should pay all his debt.

Damaged bodies, feelings, emotions do not need damage control, they need a liberating healing to restoration. That healing comes about by an act of forgiveness. In this parable, the lord forgave the first servant his debt. I take it to mean that he cancelled the requirement to pay it back. How will that work for each of us?

I suspect that often in relationships I like to keep a scorecard. A scorecard which keeps account of the wrongs done to me by the other. I keep it close. And I often (to my shame) add a little interest to each score as I plan payback. I am just like that first servant.

The only way change will come in me is to recognise that in the relationship of my life which precedes all others – that between God and

me- there has been an unconditional forgiveness granted, no matter what the level of moral, spiritual debt incurred by me between us. No scorecard is kept. In fact, at one place, God is quoted as saying, “I shall put your sins as far away from you as the east is from the west.”

How then, can I keep a scorecard against my neighbour who struggles with life just as much as I? Is the more sensible thing, for the future of my small circle and my community, to learn the generous and amazing act of forgiveness which brings light, liberty, healing and joy wherever it is applied.

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